Coming Full Circle
MAP Architecture + Design borrows from the past to design a future-oriented graphics firm in New York
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 10/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Some might think it incongruous that Duffy Design, a decidedly modern graphics firm headquartered in Minneapolis, chose Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building for a New York venue. Or be startled to hear that the 1913 edifice's great vaulted lobby—it covers 6,000 square feet, rises nearly 25 feet, and is aglitter with gilded mosaic tiles—is credited with providing the inspiration for an office design so space-age. However, as MAP Architecture + Design principal Morris Adjmi explains, he and the client resolved to endow the 20,000-square-foot work environment with an abstraction of the building's architecture, specifically its arches.
MAP favored strong elements, bold annular and elliptical sweeps in particular. The reception area introduces the theme. Reminiscent of an igloo, the room's circular desk and rounded ceiling and walls are formed from curved drywall painted a semigloss white. Cut into the walls, four circular doorways lead to the elevator lobby, waiting area, conference room, and work space, the latter reached via a tubular passage lined with shelf-mounted flat-screen monitors displaying graphics produced for clients. The tubular passage leads to a hall lined, on one side, with bays of open workstations and, on the other, four small rooms for impromptu get-togethers or breakaways. (Each room comes equipped with a phone, offering privacy valued by the staff.) Walls pierced by a succession of arches separate the bays, creating dramatic vistas and inviting easy communication among staffers.
Office furniture is customized, offering various size, hardware, and color choices—although red is predominant. Suspended above are white-coated baked-enamel light fixtures in a flat doughnut shape. Floors are surfaced in gloss-finished gray epoxy resin, enlivened by runners and rugs. Soft white, light blue, and reddish orange compose the palette. Just as the Woolworth Building remains an absolutely 20th-century icon of commerce despite the Gothic detailing, the Duffy Design interior's references to the venerable skyscraper look, says Adjmi, "neither quaint nor historical."